Blizzard warning issued for parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut
December 25th, 2010
04:47 PM ET

Blizzard warning issued for parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the New York metro area,  northeast New Jersey and coastal Connecticut, CNN has confirmed.

The warning is in effect from 6 a.m. Sunday to 6 p.m. Monday.

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Filed under: Connecticut • New Jersey • New York • Weather
December 25th, 2010
12:53 PM ET

Human rights group slams life sentence for Indian doctor

A life sentence handed down to a rural pediatrician in the world's largest democracy had human rights activists screaming a mockery of justice Saturday.

A court in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh found Dr. Binayak Sen and two others guilty of sedition and conspiracy Friday for helping India's Maoist Naxalite movement. They were sentenced to life in jail.

Amnesty International blasted the court's actions as a violation of international fair trial standards and said Binayak's sentence was likely to enflame tensions in an area already clouded by conflict.

Amnesty said the charges were politically motivated because Sen reported the unlawful killings of tribal people by police and a private militia believed to be sponsored by the government to fight Maoist rebels.

"Life in prison is an unusually harsh sentence for anyone, much less for an internationally recognized human rights defender who has never been charged with any act of violence," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director.

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Filed under: India • Justice
Gorillaz release Christmas gift for fans, techies: iPad-made album, app secrets
December 25th, 2010
10:52 AM ET

Gorillaz release Christmas gift for fans, techies: iPad-made album, app secrets

If you're a fan of the Gorillaz, don't forget to check online for an additional present this Christmas Day.

The band has always been known for seeking out ways to set themselves apart - which leads us to the digital Christmas gift of the album "The Fall," now available to listen to online on the band's site.

And by the way, it was composed using mostly an iPad, with just a few other instruments.

You'll need to have a membership to their fan club to download the album, but anyone can listen for free. The album will also have an official release, and hard copy, next year.

The album has a much slower and more basic vibe than the Gorillaz' normal high-production, technically superior collections. But considering the band had just 32 days to make the music, with the added task of composing partially on an iPad, you can't help being at least a little impressed.

The use of the iPad was partially what led the band to record an album quickly in time for the holidays.

"I hope I'll be making the first record on an iPad," frontman Damon Albarn told the UK's NME music website back when he first began recording. "I fell in love with my iPad as soon as I got it, so I've made a completely different kind of record."

And even if you aren't a fan of the Gorillaz, you might enjoy a note they've put up, listing which iPad apps they used to make the album:

"Speak It! / SoundyThingie / Mugician / Solo Synth / Synth / Funk Box / Gliss / AmpliTube / Xenon / iElectribe / BS-16i / M3000 HD / Cleartune / iOrgel HD / Olsynth / StudioMiniXI / BassLine / Harmonizer / Dub Siren Pro / Moog Filatron"

So, music fans, take a fresh listen, or break out the new iPad you just unwrapped and start making your own album - you know, either because you're a digital music-making fan, or because you want to drown out that loud family member in the other room this holiday.

Who knows, maybe you too will have your own iPad band like these guys soon.

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Filed under: Music • Showbiz
December 25th, 2010
09:13 AM ET

Tsunami warning issued after strong quake in Pacific Ocean

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean's Vanuatu Islands region early Sunday, prompting a tsunami warning for the area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck 135 kilometers (85 miles) west of the island of Tanna, Vanuatu and 1,740 kilometers (about 1,100 miles) off Australia's eastern coast just after midnight local time (8:16 a.m. ET).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a regional warning for a part of the Pacific, including Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji.

"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines in the region near the epicenter within minutes to hours," the center said. "Authorities in the region should take appropriate action in response to this possibility."

The tsunami warning did not include the U.S. state of Hawaii, though some coastal areas of the islands could experience very rough seas and strong currents.

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Filed under: Weather
Dutch arrest 12 thought to be ready to launch terror attack
December 25th, 2010
08:49 AM ET

Dutch arrest 12 thought to be ready to launch terror attack

Dutch authorities have arrested 12 men of Somali origin they believe were about to carry out a terrorist attack, authorities said Saturday.

The country's intelligence service provided information that led to the arrests in Rotterdam, Public Prosecution Service spokesman Wim de Bruin told CNN.

No weapons or explosives were found, he said. The suspects are in police custody.

"The attack was said to be imminent so the national police started an investigation which led to the arrest of 12 Somalis later on Friday in Rotterdam," de Bruin said. "We are not sure about what the target was, how they were going to carry out the attack or when."

A Dutch counterterrorism office spokeswoman said the immediate threat to the country has been removed and the terror alert level will remain "limited," or relatively low.

"We are now following the information that comes out of the interrogations with these 12 individuals to see if there still remains a threat from this plot," said Judith Sluiter of the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism.

The men, between ages 19 and 48, were arrested in various locations. Police have searched a pawn shop, four homes and two hotel rooms, de Bruin said.

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Filed under: Netherlands • Somalia • Terrorism
Pope's Christmas message urges peace in troubled lands
December 25th, 2010
08:35 AM ET

Pope's Christmas message urges peace in troubled lands

In his traditional Christmas message delivered Saturday to crowds braving winter's chill, Pope Benedict XVI urged peace in the Middle East and asked for God's comfort upon beleaguered Christian communities in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

The annual "To the City and the World address, known in Latin as "Urbi et Orbi," mentioned other global hot spots.

The pope wished for security in places overcome by conflict like Somalia, Sudan's Darfur region, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan and the Korean peninsula and those nations like Haiti that are grappling with the consequences of disease and natural disaster.

"May the light of Christmas shine forth anew in the Land where Jesus was born, and inspire Israelis and Palestinians to strive for a just and peaceful coexistence," Benedict said in the speech delivered in 64 languages, from English and Latin to Maori and Maltese.

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Filed under: Holidays • Religion • Vatican
Travelers brace for flight delays amid threats of winter storm
December 25th, 2010
07:27 AM ET

Travelers brace for flight delays amid threats of winter storm

[Updated at 7:27 a.m.] Some Christmas Day travelers are facing long delays at airports Saturday as the threat of a winter storm - particularly in eastern parts of the United States - led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Driving and flight conditions could be difficult in several areas of the East as storms intensify into Sunday and Monday.

A Nor'easter is possible Sunday, said CNN meteorologist Bonnie Schneider.

The National Weather Service issued a warning for heavy snow Saturday in the mountain counties of North Carolina not bordering Tennessee, the mountains of South Carolina and Georgia, and the North Carolina foothills. Asheville, North Carolina, was expected to get up to five inches of snow later Saturday.

Heavy rain was reported Saturday morning in Louisiana.

Forecasters also issued a winter storm watch for parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island into Monday. Accumulation of 6 inches of snow in a 12-hour period is possible, according to the weather agency's Boston office.

Beginning Sunday afternoon and through Monday, southern New England could see six to eight inches of snow - with 10 inches possibly falling in some places. In addition, the National Weather Service cautioned about a coastal flood threat for eastern Massachusetts during high tides.

Winter weather advisories stretched as far south as Georgia, with a mix of rain and snow expected in the northern part of the state before the precipitation turns to "all snow" on Saturday evening. Parts of the northeast Georgia mountains could get 2 to 3 inches of snow, forecasters said.

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Filed under: Air travel • Travel • U.S. • Weather
Yemeni official: We're 'bringing the fight to al Qaeda'
December 25th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Yemeni official: We're 'bringing the fight to al Qaeda'

Yemen is embarking on a major initiative in its war on terror and plans to build four new branches for the country's elite counter-terrorism units next year, a spokesman for the country's American embassy said on Saturday.

Mohammed Albasha said the branches will be located in four different locations - Mareb, Shabwa, Abyan and Hadramawt.

Hadramawt, Albasha said, "will have the largest contingency of counter-terror units. This is the next phase in the war on terrorism – we are bringing the fight to al Qaeda."

Yemen has been locked in a struggle with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, the offshoot of the al Qaeda terror network based in Yemen.

It grabbed the attention of the west with the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines trans-Atlantic flight as it landed in Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day in 2009.

Over the past year, U.S. Special Forces have expanded the type of training they're giving to Yemen's military, while also adding more Special Operations forces to the training mission there.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Terrorism • Yemen